It’s been more than five weeks since the New York Rangers fired head coach Alain Vigneault, ending a five-year stint behind at Madison Square Garden.
They are the only team currently without a head coach as three teams have already made hires since Vigneault was shown the door. The Calgary Flames brought on former Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters while the Dallas Stars hired University of Denver head coach Jim Montgomery to the same position. The Hurricanes brought on a familiar face to their ranks last week, hiring former captain Rod Brind’Amour to lead the team from behind the bench.
So what is taking the Rangers so long?
Well, they have to wait for all of their candidates to be available.
While the entire list is not known, the Rangers have been active over the past month. General manager Jeff Gorton told Larry Brooks of the New York Post at the end of April that he already has spoken with a number of candidates and is not done interviewing just yet.
Among those candidates yet to be spoken with is Sheldon Keefe, who is currently coaching the Toronto Marlies toward the Calder Cup in the AHL. His side is currently in the conference finals after putting up the league’s best record in 2017-18.
Keefe has been linked with the Rangers since shortly after the team’s coaching change as he fits the mold of Gorton’s desire to bring in a “fresh” mind to the franchise.
At 37 years old, Keefe is as fresh as they come, entering the coaching ranks 12 years ago after a brief NHL playing career with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
He’s already won the Canadian Junior Hockey League championship with the Pembroke Lumber Kings in 2007. He made the jump to the Ontario Hockey League in 2012, steering the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to three playoff appearances before joining the Marlies of the AHL in 2015.
Keefe led the Marlies to a 54-18-0-4 record this season as they are favorite to win the Calder Trophy. It is only when their season ends that the Rangers can interview Keefe, which means they could be waiting until the middle of June before bringing him in.